Publication Date: June 11, 2014
ALWAYS RAYNE ONLY 99c (until October 16th)
Would you spend ten days traveling the country with someone you despised if he promised to pay off your student loans?Recent college graduate, Harper Leigh, can barely make ends meet working as the books editor for a new online entertainment magazine, Chatter. With $85,000 of student loan debt about to go into repayment, she has no idea how she'll get by. Just when she thinks things couldn't get worse, Harper's boss decides to embed her in the North American tour for the hot rock band, Always Rayne. Ten days on the road with the band for her to get an exclusive story.
But Harper's a homebody and the last thing she wants to do is go on the road with a rock band. And she definitely doesn't want to spend ten days with the notorious bad boy and band front man, Nic Rayne. When Nic proves to be too much for Harper to handle and she threatens to quit the assignment, Nic decides to sweeten the pot. If she stays with the tour for all ten days, he'll pay off all of her student loan debt....but there's one small catch. Harper also has to sleep in his bed every night.
Brooke and I are wearing those plastic backstage passes around our necks and when two really big body guards standing at the backstage entrance see them they let us pass right through the door.
As I glance around at all the other people with backstage passes I notice they all look a lot more like Brooke than I expected. All of the girls are wearing ultra-short, skin-tight skirts with barely there tops.
The guys all look like they just stepped out of the band themselves. They’re all young and hot and they seem to know it.
There’s definitely no shortage of arrogance in the room.
“I’m definitely going after Leo,” Brooke whispers to me as we approach the band.
All three of the band members are standing next to each other drinking beers and talking with a bevy of blondes.
Maybe this isn’t the best place for Brooke to be hanging out. She hasn’t been sober very long and I don’t want her to fall into temptation. I have a feeling if Leo handed her a beer she wouldn’t say no.
“I’m getting tired,” I say and fake a big yawn.
“You are not going to wimp out on me.” Brooke gives me a cold glare. “We’re not leaving here until we meet Always Rayne. All of them.”
Nic Rayne looks like he’s getting bored with the blondes. He’s glancing around the room rather than paying attention to what the girls are saying.
As soon as Nic’s eyes land on me I can see his expression change. His brows are furrowed and he looks puzzled. I’m sure he’s wondering what someone who looks like me is doing backstage.
Disappointment crosses over the faces of the two girls vying for Nic’s attention when he walks away from them and heads in my direction.
“You,” he points to me. At least I think he’s pointing at me. When I look around and realize I’m standing alone, I know he’s pointing at me.
Then I panic because I’m standing alone. Where the hell is my roommate? The one who dragged me here in the first place practically kicking and screaming. She completely abandoned me. I also notice that one of Nic Rayne’s bandmates seems to have vanished just as quickly.
It isn’t possible for Brooke to hook up with someone that fast, is it?
This is Brooke we’re talking about. Not only is it possible, it’s highly probable.
Nic Rayne is now glaring at me. It’s like he can’t believe I didn’t jump as soon as he pointed to me. I can already tell this guy is a piece of work. He’s probably used to getting any girl he wants with the snap of his finger. Hell, he’s probably used to getting anything he wants the second the demand comes out of this mouth.
I can see him let out an exasperated breath and then head in my direction. I quickly scan the room to see if I can spot an exit but by the time my eyes land on one, it’s too late. Nic Rayne has already entered my personal space.
And he’s not just close to me; he’s practically on top of me. And I don’t like it. He makes me extremely uncomfortable. I’d rather be anywhere than standing next to Nic Rayne. I’d rather be back in Economics class at the university and I hate Economics. It’s the only class I ever got a C in.
“What’s up?” Nic says.
I’ve seen him in movies so I knew he was tall and muscular. I guess it never occurred to me how tall and muscular he really is. The guy is towering over me and I’m not that short. I’m five feet six inches. Nic has got to be at least six inches taller than me.
“Did you see where my friend went?”
He nods but doesn’t say anything else.
“Okay. Would you mind telling me where she went?”
I assume he means Leo Donovan, his cousin and the guitar player in Always Rayne.
“Hey, Rayne.” Xander Donovan, Nic’s other cousin, and the band’s drummer, places a hand on Nic’s shoulder. “Pick the girl you want and let’s go. We’re all headed over to Troy.”
Troy is the trendiest club in the city. I’ve heard a lot about it but haven’t been able to afford the stiff cover charge and the fifteen dollar drinks.
“Come on,” Nic says and turns to leave as if I’m supposed to follow him.
He takes a few steps before he realizes that I’m not following him. Then he turns back around and gives me an odd look. “Aren’t you coming?”
I shake my head.
“Why not?” He actually looks puzzled.
“Do you want a list?”
His eyes narrow and then he walks back over to me. He gets so close I can smell his masculine scent and what’s left of his spicy cologne. “What’s the list?”
I gulp. I wasn’t actually expecting him to ask for the list. I thought he’d just get disgusted and find some other girl to go with him.
“Well, you’re not my type. I don’t find you remotely attractive. Or particularly interesting. I don’t like your music at all. And you don’t seem very smart. And I don’t sleep with guys I don’t know. So, maybe you should just find some other girl to take to Troy.”
He’s doing his best to bite back a grin. The smug asshole actually finds what I’ve said funny. I didn’t think I could dislike him more but he’s really pushing my buttons.
“I’m not your type, huh?” He leans in even closer. So close, I can feel his breath on my neck. “I’m everybody’s type.”
I try to swallow but I feel like there’s a golf ball stuck in my throat.
“You don’t find me attractive, huh? Then why are you sweating?” He places his hand right over my heart. “And your heart is beating a mile a minute. Maybe you should listen to what your body wants instead of what your brain is telling you.”
I take a step back and try to collect myself. I wipe my brow and realize I really am sweating. And he’s right, my heart is racing. What the hell is going on?
“I’m not some groupie who’s going to do whatever you want because you snapped your fingers.”
He looks me up and down. “I can see that.”
I place my hands on my hips. “What is that supposed to mean?”
He actually has the audacity to laugh. “No one would ever mistake you for a groupie that’s for sure.”
“Why do you say that?”
“Your clothes are like some crazy mash-up between a hippie and a school librarian.”
I glance down at my flowered skirt and strappy sandals. He has a point. I’m not exactly a fashion whore like my roommate. Not that I have the money to update my wardrobe even if I wanted to.
He steps closer again. He’s got a habit of getting right into my personal space and it makes me uncomfortable every time he does it. When I look into his deep brown eyes, I have the feeling that he’s doing it just to get a rise out of me.
“What are you doing here?” he asks. For the first time since we’ve met, he actually sounds sincere.
“I came with my roommate. She won tickets from the radio station. She wanted to see you. And your cousins.”
“I asked what you’re doing here.”
“I guess I’m here for moral support,” I stammer. And I have a press pass.”
I’m not sure why I tell him that. I guess I feel like I need some kind of excuse to be here because I’m definitely not here for the music.
“Why am I not surprised? You look like a writer. Or a librarian.”
I dig around in my purse and pull out my press pass. To my surprise, he grabs it from my hand. “Chatter. Never heard of it.”
“It’s an online magazine. A start up.”
He nods then hands me back my credentials.
“Do you like it?”
“Like what?” I’m surprised by the question.
“Writing. Working for a magazine.”
I shrug. “I’ve never thought about doing anything else. My parents named me Harper Leigh. I was kind of destined to be a writer.”
He’s looking at me with a blank stare. Maybe he really is as brainless as I think. And for some strange reason that disappoints me.
“Harper Leigh,” I repeat. “I spell my name differently but she was a writer.”
He’s still looking at me with a blank expression.
“She won the Pulitzer Prize.”
Then he smiles. “I know who Harper Lee is. To Kill a Mocking Bird. Won the Pulitzer Prize in 1961. She was also good friends with Truman Capote. She helped him with the research for In Cold Blood.”
I can feel my jaw drop.
“I guess I’m smarter than you think.” He leans in close again. “And I’m also a great actor apparently because I had you fooled.”
I want to say something in response but no words come out of my mouth.
“Rayne.” It’s Xander again. “Come on. We’ve got to bounce.”
“Does everyone call you Rayne?”